If you compulsively use pornography, feel you have out-of-control sexual behaviors, or feel that your behavior is an addiction, we can help…


Sexual curiosity and exploration are normative behaviors. However, some people feel that they, or a loved one, have transitioned from healthy interest in sex to something that creates feelings of self-loathing, damages relationships, or violates their personal values.

Each person’s values and beliefs matter in deciding how treatment should proceed. We take client self-determination seriously and we respect our client’s values systems. In order to evaluate whether your sexual behaviors have risen to a problematic level, you can consider Bill Herring’s approach to problematic sexual behaviors, which would include:

  1. Sexual behavior that repeatedly conflicts with a person’s commitments,
  2. Sexual behavior that repeatedly conflicts with a person’s values,
  3. Sexual behavior that repeatedly conflicts with a person’s self-control,
  4. Sexual behavior that repeatedly results in negative consequences, and
  5. Sexual behavior that repeatedly lacks adequate sexual responsibility.

The term “addiction” or “sexual addiction” is often debated among mental health professionals. However, sex addiction or pornography addiction is how many clients describe how they feel about their own inability to address their own sexual behaviors. We respect and want to help clients who want to use these terms and who find them helpful.

At the same time, for those clients who feel the term “addiction” does not fit them or their behaviors, we support any way they want to view themselves in a process of deciding how to best seek help and healing.

In fact, because no two people are the same, we have developed our own treatment model for dealing with problematic sexual behaviors or “pornography addiction.” Our model is called ARM-5 (Adaptive Recovery Model, with 5 Phases).



Adaptive Recovery Model (ARM-5)

ARM-5 uses quadrants to help determine the kind of help people need. The quadrants focus on two areas: self-inflicted consequences (like self-shame, loathing, obsessive thinking, etc.) and external consequences (such as damaged relationships, reduced basic functioning, or impaired coping skills).

Our treatment method endeavors to focus on where the most harm is happening in your life. For example, we have worked with many people whose sexual behaviors fall in line with what the vast majority of humans experience, including curiosity, exploration, and interest. Even when the behaviors sometimes fall outside of a person’s stated values, these individuals generally don’t exhibit truly out-of-control behaviors, “pornography addiction,” or anything that would cause clinical concerns. However, their own sense of shame, self-loathing, fear, and obessive attempts to create “perfect” outcomes for themselves actually become the problem. These self-inflicted consequences are what we actually need to treat in therapy.

On the other hand, we have therapy clients who feel their sexual behaviors are not problematic and do not fall outside their own values. But in therapy, it becomes clear that their behaviors demonstrate a lack of empathy for others, are deeply objectifying of human beings, and are causing real consequences in their lives. These individuals need a completely different treamtent approach based on a commitment to social and relational responsibility and increased self-awareness.


Our Adaptive Recovery Model approach is personalized, non-shaming, ethical, and developed from the foundation of years of treatment experience and academic studies. 

Whether a client self-identifies as the victim of a society or culture that is sexually shaming, and is seeking help re-evaluating their personal values and behaviors to line them up more carefully, or a client self-identifies as having a “pornography addiction” and wants help lining up their sexual behaviors more closely with their sexual values, our model can help.

Healing from problematic sexual behaviors is much more than simply stopping the behaviors.

True healing involves emotional work, self-awareness, careful evaluation of personal values, introspection about how one fits into the culture around them, meaningful behavior change, and a deep understanding how how one’s behaviors affect those around them. Some of the important change elements may include…

1. Honesty and accountability

True change is rooted in honesty. To find recovery and healing, you have to understand the wound. The wound may be self-inflicted, exacerbated by a perfectionistic family culture or social environment. Some people need to come to terms with how those who tried to help them may have actually caused harm, by pushing them deeper into their own shame and self-loathing. On the other hand, some people need accountability regarding how their sexual behaviors have caused real and lasting hurt to others around them. Each person is unique, and honesty will look different for each person coming into our office.

2. Confrontation of mental defenses

Change is hard. No one wants to admit that their best efforts may have led them to being stuck where they are right now. We also may not want to confront how the people and institutions we love may have done as much harm as they did good in our lives. In order to protect ourselves from this “cognitive dissonance,” we often become defensive when the hard work of therapy challenges our notions about how the world “should be.” Your therapist will gently guide you into deeper self-evaluation and help you confront your own mental defenses so that you can take an honest look at yourself and the world around you–to help you become more confident in your values, opnions, and views. In therapy, you may change your beliefs, re-think things you once held as unchangable, or become even more dedicated to your existing beliefs. We will walk with you through that path.

3. Emotional awareness and self-expression

Similar to people who find themselves using alcohol, drugs, anger, spending money, or video games as a primary method of avoiding or “dealing with” emotional pain and suffering, people with problematic sexual behaviors (“pornography addiction”) often lack basic emotional language to describe their own pain, and often lack basic coping skills necessary for living a healthy life. Anyone who wants to learn to cope with a wider range of skills must learn to become emotionally self-aware and gain the courage to share those emotions and ask for help. So often, turning to compulsive sexual behaviors is a desperate search for intimacy, which never satisfies. Real human connection is the most powerful antidote for disconnected sexuality.

4. Empathy and understanding

Whether it’s out-of-control pornography use, repeated extermarital affairs, or anonymous sex that violate your personal values, you will likely increase your empathy in your healing journey. First, you’ll need to empathize with yourself. So many who come into our office feel that they are “less than” and don’t measure up to some standard (often unrealistic). They have to learn to empathize with themselves, forgiving themselves for simply being a human being who doesn’t always behavior perfectly in line with their values. But our clients may also have a lot to learn about empathy for others. When you are in relationship with others, especially when they don’t share your exact values, you may find that your behaviors create unintended harm. Part of your therapy may be to deeply understand and hear the ways in which you have hurt others so that you can make decisions in a more relationally focused and ethical way in the future. 

5. Life restructuring

As you move through your healing process, you will likely identify changes you want to make in your values, goals, relationships, affiliations, and behaviors. Change doesn’t come easily for anyone. Some changes happen early as you set personal boundaries, take accountability, seek help, and determine which outcomes are most important to you. Other changes happen over time as you rethink and re-evaluate what you truly want out of life, sometimes making sweeping changes and sometimes smaller ones. We will help you find peace in change, communicate effectively with loved ones, and confront emotional struggles that we all deal with when making these types of changes in life. 

You may start out feeling like what you have is a “pornography addiction” and may end up seeing yourself as being on a much broader and more comprehensive healing path that will have much more profound effects on your life than just stopping a behavior that troubles you. 

A crucial element of treatment of sex addiction when a partner or spouse is involved is the treatment of the traumatized partner.

Discovering that your loved one has a sex or pornography addiction is a traumatizing experience. It turns people’s worlds upside down and creates a sense of helplessness and lack of relational or emotional safety that is impossible to resolve while the addiction is active.

This trauma needs to be treated in order for couples to successfully navigate their way through the addict’s recovery. Without an equal emphasis on a partner’s healing and recovery, treatment of sex addiction is only half complete.

Partners of addicts need at least three significant things:

1. Learning to trust again

Trust is not automatic. It is earned. We encourage partners to trust only at a pace that parallels the addict’s own recovery. Spouses or partners are not obligated to trust. In therapy, they learn to express honestly their needs and experience of the addict’s recovery (or lack thereof). Partners begin to trust again within their own defined parameters.

2. Learning how to implement healthy boundaries

Often, spouses or partners struggle to have healthy boundaries for themselves and their partners. They often resort to unhealthy patterns like rescuing, emotional numbing, or rage. In therapy, we work to help affected partners create and maintain healthy boundaries. They work toward having healthy boundaries with self and healthy boundaries with their partner. Boundaries helps the traumatized partner feel emotionally and physically safe.

3. Emotional healing

We recognize the emotional and relational trauma that can be exacerbated by a partner’s out-of-control sexual behaviors. Both people need healing. They need time, space, and permission to heal at their own pace and in their own way. For some couples, part of that healing comes when the partner struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors presents a therapy-guided “full disclosure” of his or her hidden sexual behaviors. Secrets impede trust in relationships. A proper disclosure can help marriages heal from past secret keeping.

If you or a loved feel you are struggling with pornography addiction or problematic sexual behaviors, please call our staff to schedule with one of our competent therapists.

Struggling with pornography or sexual addiction?

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